This is my full-spoiler breakdown of The Last Jedi. If you want the spoiler free review, go here.
Before reading this in-depth spoiler-review, I'd recommend reading my general thoughts at the link above to get a broad sense of the movie as a whole. This post will serve as my nitpick session, and is far less organized and edited.
Right out of the gate, Poe Dameron stalls General Hux by pretending like there’s a bad connection on the phone call. I get why that’s in there. I get Poe was trying to stall the First Order and buy his people some time. I also get that Hux is supposed to be a satirical take on an over-zealous space-nazi. But you’re telling me that this First Order general is really going to be on this phone call and say “Hello, can you hear me now?” The whole thing was very silly, and immediately had me worried. My worry was justified.
Poe Dameron gets some good character development in the movie on the whole, making up for his lack of screentime in the Force Awakens. I liked seeing him take on a more central leadership role.
The bombing sequence involving Rose’s sister was quite effective, and one of the few highlights of the film. A heroic sacrifice, a good way to say that there’s more heroes in the rebellion than the people who have the last name Skywalker.
However, that’s kind of undone late in the film. Perhaps the dumbest thing in the entire movie is when Rose crashes her pod into Finn’s to stop him from making a suicide run on the First Order laser that’s about to break open the gate of the Resistance base. Her justification for that – “That’s how we’ll win: By saving the things we love, rather than destroying the things we hate” – is a poetic and beautiful sentiment. But in the context of the actual situation those words and actions are utterly stupid. There’s literally a giant laser pointed at your friends, and you stopped someone from taking it out. So how are you going to win now, Rose? And by the way, I’m not sure your sister would agree with you. You know, the one who sacrificed herself by bombing a dreadnaught to help the Resistance get away?
Rose is a good character, almost instantly loveable. But her side-story with Finn is basically completely superfluous. The sequence in the Canto Bight casino has a few okay gags, mostly from BB-8, but feels much like a throwback to the bad parts of the prequel trilogy. They fail to get the real codebreaker (maybe?) and end up with a random character who also happens to be a codebreaker (or was he the real one?), played in typically weird fashion by Benecio Del Toro. They end up on Snoke’s ship and accomplish nothing. This whole episode is silly, boring, predictable, and only serves as an excuse to get Finn in proximity to Phasma so they can have a lackluster showdown.
The Resistance-running-out-of-gas plot thread is the galaxy’s slowest car chase sequence, and I’m left wondering why they couldn’t come up with something better as the central narrative conceit. Laura Dern as Holdo is genuinely good, and I would have liked to have seen more of her character. But the dynamic between she and Poe is frustratingly contrived and nonsensical. JUST TELL POE WHAT THE PLAN IS. There is literally zero reason for him not to know, and every reason to tell him. Just say, hey, this is the plan. And Poe would say, “Yeah, that’s good, let’s do that.” The whole mutiny sequence and wondering if Holdo is a traitor is utterly unnecessary.
Holdo’s self-sacrifice by warp-drive is one of the best moments of the film. Too bad it was ruined for me by the idiot sitting behind me in the movie theater who felt the need to say, as loud as he possibly could, “That’s gonna leave a mark!” Seriously? If you’re in the movie theater…SHUT…UP.
Carrie Fisher as Leia is a highlight, and she has some really cool moments. I liked that she was able to pull herself back into the ship with what Force powers she has, which is apparently more than I thought.
So the moment we’ve been looking forward to for two years, the moment where Rey extends a familiar lightsaber to the legendary but reclusive Jedi master, offering him a chance at redemption and to fulfill his destiny, calling him once again to greatness. Epic moment, right?
Nope. He comically tosses the lightsaber over his shoulder and walks away. I understand that Luke had to initially reject that calling. But it should have been handled much better. And it retroactively ruins the epic finale of The Force Awakens.
Luke milks a female alien and drinks. I don’t think I need to say any more about that. But just in case I do…Ew, and why?
The world of Ahch-To is a very cool one. The frog-nuns feel like Star Wars characters, and the Porgs are a welcome addition, and provide some of the genuine comedy in the film. Althought Chewie cooking and eating them seems out of character, and a forced gag.
Some of the stuff between Luke and Rey is really good, especially his apprehension at the discovery of Rey’s raw power. Mark Hamill is impressive as Luke, and his anguish and defeat is beautifully unspoken. The backstory between he and Kylo is good, and suitably complex, each with their own reasons for reacting the way they did. But we should have seen more of it. And where are the knights of Ren that we keep hearing about? And if I’m correct, the flashbacks in TLJ do not match those in TFA.
So on this island, there’s this weird and cool hole in the ground, and some dark force energy coming from it? What’s down there? What will Rey find?
Nothing. She’ll find nothing. It’s a weird mirror that let’s her see a bit into the future or the past, maybe? It’s nothing. This is a central theme of the film. I understand that moment was trying to evoke the scene where Luke enters the force-cave and sees Vader-but-actually-himself. But it doesn’t work.
The connection between Rey and Kylo Ren was really good, and a surprising aspect of the Force. But I would have liked to have seen it serve a greater purpose than a convenient plot device to allow two characters to speak who are not in close proximity.
The scene in Snoke’s chamber. So you’re telling me that this all-powerful Sith Lord cannot distinguish between the lightsaber in someone’s hand and the lightsaber at his own side? He can’t tell that the lightsaber at his side is turning? Really?
And so Snoke is dead? Like, that’s it? We don’t know who he is, where he came from, why he’s here. He’s just gone. This is just one way TLJ undoes and disregards what was setup in TFA. Snoke is apparently inconsequential. And his ten minutes in the film were filled with stereotypical villain monologues about power and strength and blah blah blah let me twirl my mustache. There is literally nothing interesting about that character.
Unless. Unless they’re playing the long game, betting on Episode IX, and Snoke is actually someone important (Darth Plagueis?) and somehow reconstitutes himself (Like Plagueis is apparently capable of doing, rumored to have beaten death). But I find that highly unlikely, and at this point, I can’t even give the people in charge of the Star Wars universe credit for being that clever.
Same for Rey. Her parents were just nobody? Okay. I guess. Anakin’s mother was a nobody. But even he was born of the Force through midichlorians (which to me is still eye-roll worthy). Unless, again, they are playing the long-game and Kylo was messing with Rey’s head, telling her she’s a nobody to break her down and get her to join him, and he knows who her parents actually are. This is a little bit more likely, but I still doubt it.
The back-and-forth of Kylo Ren is getting tiresome at this point. Is he evil, is he not, can he be redeemed, is he too far gone? Make a decision. Adam Driver’s turn as Kylo in TLJ is much better than TFA, however, and there is some depth there that I was glad to see.
The moment where Kylo and Rey go back to back to fight Snoke’s guards was very cool, but ended up devolving into a tug of war over Luke’s lightsaber, which again seemed purposeless and superfluous. Why should I care about this? Why is this happening? No justification is given.
Possibly the worst sin of TLJ is how it handles the end of Luke Skywalker. Luke shows up on Crait to speak with his sister one last time. Immediately you wonder if something is up because apparently he took the time to cut his hair and all that. But when he walks out of those gates to face the unified might of the First Order, I got chills. “YES. THIS is Luke Skywalker. This is Skywalker unleashed. He’s going to face them ALL. He’s going to CRUSH those walkers with the Force. Sure, GO AHEAD and BLAST him away, Kylo! All your guns are no match for the power of Luke Skywalker!. Finally we get to see this legendary figure display his full strength. THIS is a JEDI.”
Nope. Force-hologram. I understand that in itself is a great display of power, for Luke to be able to project himself across the galaxy. And obviously it takes its toll on him. But really? THAT’S the end of Luke bloody Skywalker? That’s the death he gets after all of this? His death serves no purpose than to buy the remaining Resistance fighters some time to escape, a purpose that could have been fulfilled by Finn crashing into the giant space-laser.
What an unbelievable waste.
Also, The Last Jedi boasts the longest runtime of any Star Wars movie. And it has no lightsaber duel. People engage in combat with lightsabers. But this is a Star Wars movie with no lightsaber vs lightsaber fight. Let that sink in.
To close this out, let’s talk about The Force Awakens. Yes, it was a rehash of what came before, something I was quite critical of at the time. But something it did well was create things to look forward to in Episode VIII.
It needn’t have bothered. Most of those things were brushed aside. But the really bad thing about The Last Jedi is that it trashes what came before and it does nothing to build anticipation for what comes next. It does not create any new questions. What am I looking forward to seeing in two years? I have no idea.
Maybe Rey is a Jedi now? Maybe there’s a new generation of force-sensitive orphans and others out there who will rise up? Unless Luke returns as a force-ghost, none of the original three heroes will be in Episode IX.
Nothing happens in this movie. Like I said in my initial review, The Last Jedi is empty. It’s hollow at its core. And that makes me sad.
Thanks for reading all this, if you’ve gotten this far. And I welcome any comments or thoughts you may have.